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Le Butt-ard article 9/17


jonnylons
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Posted on Fri, Sep. 17, 2004

 

Odds stacked against Marlins again, so look out

 

DAN LE BATARD

 

dlebatard@herald.com

 

 

This sport can give you some pretty cool stories.

 

Manny Ramirez making the unprecedented journey from irrevocable waiver wire to probable MVP in less than a year. Barry Bonds being the most dominant player in major American sports at 40. Baseball-mad Chicago and Boston going decade upon decade without sniffing the trophy an indifferent South Florida has won twice in seven years.

 

But the Marlins can't do this again, right?

 

Can they?

 

Really?

 

If they do somehow wheeze and limp and stagger into the postseason from here, overcoming Barry Bonds and Greg Maddux and Frances and Ivan and a 3 ?-game deficit in the season's last month with a rotation of too much Nate Bump, it would be just as impressive as knocking off Bonds, Sammy Sosa and the New York Yankees last postseason.

 

''More impressive,'' first baseman Jeff Conine said after Thursday night's 4-3 victory against the Expos. ``We'd be overcoming more this time. You realize what playing 30 games in [27] days does to a pitching staff? We're going into the most crucial stretch of the season, into the most crucial games, with spot starters.''

 

Like Logan Kensing.

 

Kid had a losing record in Single A this season. Was 2-6 with a 5.26 ERA in Single A last season. Started all of 35 professional games, none above Single A, before the Marlins sent him out there last week against Sosa, Moises Alou, Derrek Lee and Nomar Garciaparra. Good luck, kid. And don't be too scared tonight against a Braves team that has only won this division each of the past 14 years.

 

A WORLD OF HURT

 

The present condition of the Marlins can be summed up in the two words second baseman Luis Castillo spit out while watching the Cubs beat the Reds on the clubhouse TV late Thursday.

 

''Oh, [expletive],'' he said.

 

Paul Lo Duca is terribly sick. The elbows of A.J. Burnett and Armando Benitez are screaming. Juan Encarnaci?n has already scheduled surgery for his balking shoulder immediately after the season. A weary Mike Lowell, who missed Thursday's game to induce labor with his wife, now has a screaming newborn at home to help him rest.

 

''I wouldn't say this is nearly impossible,'' winning pitcher Dontrelle Willis says. ``We've been good when the odds are against us. We still have confidence. Quick as a weekend series, it can all turn around.''

 

There are only 18 games left, but the Marlins can take solace in having seven against the Phillies, a team they have beaten 11 of 12 times this season and 23 of the past 26 times they have met.

 

Normally, you wouldn't want to see Jim Thome and the above-average Phillies this late, but Florida has beaten them up more than all these last-place teams they keep losing against. Conine says the Phillies have no confidence against the Marlins.

 

GO FIGURE

 

Strange and cruel game, this one. The Marlins lose both ends of a must-have doubleheader to the woeful Expos on Wednesday, then come back and beat Montreal's only good pitcher, Livan Hernandez, without Lowell.

 

But their attitude was best articulated by baby-faced assassin Miguel Cabrera this spring: ''I only fear death and nothing else,'' he said. ``You can't do anything with fear. You have to be tranquil and believe.''

 

Asked about facing the likes of Roger Clemens and Kerry Wood and Jason Schmidt, he says, ``They only have a ball. I have a bat.''

 

So they go into this fight by themselves again. In no other baseball town in America does a defending champion in a pennant race get the pathetic crowds the Marlins have gotten the past few nights. It is embarrassing.

 

We don't deserve this team, or its excellence, but here we are again: the staggered and tired Marlins looking up from the bottom of the mountain, all alone with their belief.

 

 

Dont know why he feels the need to bash the attendance and the fans. It isnt like there wasnt two damn HURRICANES that rolled through the area recently. It isnt like the Expos are going to be a big draw either - despite what this team is doing. Still, drew 17K on a Thursday night when people were initially think Ivan would land in the area. Otherwise, a good article about the tenacity and character of this team. I am really worried by Philly at this point though.

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